M A I N   N E W S

Gurgaon rocks Parliament
Judicial probe ordered, says Patil
Tribune News Service

Violent incidents in Gurgaon on Tuesday: lathis are rained on a demonstrator
Violent incidents in Gurgaon on Tuesday: lathis are rained on a demonstrator (top) and policemen move towards the protesters (below). — Tribune photos by Mukesh Aggarwal
Policemen move towards the protesters

New Delhi, July 26
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil today informed the Lok Sabha that a judicial probe has been ordered by the Haryana Government into the police action against protesting workers of a Japanese multinational company in Gurgaon.

Patil said he conveyed the concerns and demands expressed by members of both Houses of Parliament to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who “agreed to institute a judicial probe”.

Left parties, which are supporting the government from outside, and the BJP-led NDA Opposition, earlier in the day staged a walkout from both Houses protesting against the unsatisfactory reply of the Home Minister.

In his statement, Patil said the police rained batons on the workers of Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Ltd, protesting a lockout of their factory and the dismissal of some colleagues, only after the situation went out of control.

“A large number of workers had come in procession shouting slogans. There were prohibitory orders and Section 144 (banning large gatherings) was enforced.”

“When the situation went out of order, cane-charge was done,” said Patil.

Interrupted frequently by members of the Opposition and Left, the Home Minister said 92 persons were injured as per the information he had received from Mr Hooda.

“Out of the 92 injured, 42 have been discharged. Thirtyfive police officers and men were injured,” he said.

Unhappy with the figures quoted by the Union Home Minister of those injured, some members began to shout.

Patil retorted that “700 injured” was only a trumped-up figure.

Earlier, BJP’s deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra, compared the incident with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

He said: “This is unprecedented police brutality against workers who were demanding justice.”

“When such a grave violation of law and order happens, it is the duty of any Central Government to dismiss the state government. The Bhupinder Singh Hooda government should be sacked,” he said, backed by cries of “shame” from the Opposition benches.

CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta said: “Such a serious incident has happened. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may please come to the House and make a statement.”

In the Rajya Sabha, Opposition members, led by deputy leader Sushma Swaraj, staged a walkout expressing disagreement with the Union Home Minister’s statement, in particular his attempt to scale down the figures on the number of injured from 700 to 92.

Swaraj asked whether the House had become so insensitive as to continue a discussion when people in Gurgaon continued to be assaulted by the police.

The Home Minister explained that the workers were cane-charged when it was found that they were getting out of control and 92 persons were injured in it.

He said the workers’ procession crossed a place where prohibitory orders under Section 144, CrPC, were in effect.

“Whether 700 persons were injured or 92 will be proved only after the inquiry report is released,” he said.

Challenging the Home Minister’s statement that the workers were cane-charged in an area where prohibitory orders were in effect, Ram Jethmalani said: “A cane-charge can only be resorted to if the people concerned are endangering the safety of the police. What is of importance in the matter is who was the aggressor first.”

The issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha by S.S. Ahluwalia of the BJP who termed the incident as a blot on the nation and a reminder to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Tarlochan Singh (Independent) said India’s international image enhanced by the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the UK and the USA had suffered a setback after the incident.

His critical remarks on the Haryana Chief Minister were ordered to be expunged by Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Questioning the rationale of continuing the discussion on the matter in the absence of proper information from the government, Balbeer Punj of the BJP asked: “With what conscience do we sit here and debate the issue when innocent people are being cane-charged next door in Gurgaon?”

Holding the Haryana Government responsible for the incident, Ajay Chautala of the INLD demanded an impartial inquiry into the unprecedented violence.

C. Ramachandriah of the TDP wanted to know at whose behest the police acted. “Are they on the payrolls of the company (Honda)?” he asked.


Lathis continue to rain on mobs
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, July 26
The police was today locked in a grim ding-dong battle on the streets near the General Civil Hospital, twice in prolonged spells, in which four civilians and an equal number of police personnel were injured.

A major clash between a mob and the police took place after the visit of state-level leaders of the INLD to the hospital.

The Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, Mr Sudhir Rajpal, today rebutted allegations that several workers, who were admitted to hospital yesterday, were missing. According to him, he was aware of Kishan Kumar of Patheddi village who was admitted to a hospital in Sohna from where he has been discharged.

The overall situation in the city, especially around the hospital area continues to be tense.

Areas around the hospital were the battle ground as the workers of Honda Scooters and Motorcycle Pvt Ltd injured in the police action yesterday, have been admitted here. The entire area around the hospital resembles a cantonment. Shopkeepers downed their shutters in the nearby Sardar Market. The mobsters were using these areas to wage a guerrilla warfare with the police, what with labyrinthine roads helping their strategic cause.

What stood out was the INLD hijacking the agitational programme of the workers. The state leaders of the INLD, including Mr Gopi Chand Gehlot and Mr Asok Arora, today visited the hospital and made a full throttle condemnation of the police attack on the workers. Mr Ajay Chautala, son of INLD supremo and former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, was here yesterday night and is said to have held a meeting with his party workers. Although there was no official confirmation from the party, it is learnt that a decision was taken to back the agitation and put the Congress Government on the mat.

The Left parties, whose trade unions had been supporting the workers’ agitation, today gave fresh momentum to the agitation with CPM’s senior leader, Brinda Karat, visiting the hospital. Activists of SFI, a Leftist student wing, also took part in the struggle against the police.

The ugly event started with some women in the hospital misbehaving with the Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, Mr Sudhir Rajpal, when he visited to inquire about the health of the workers nursing injuries. Later a few females also tried to misbehave with the Inspector-General of Police, Gurgaon Range, Mrs Deepa Mehta.

Significantly, leaders of the INLD, including females, were in the hospital in good number since morning.

In and around the hospital small skirmishes took place between relatives of injured workers. It was apparent that local INLD leaders were egging them on. A major skirmish broke out just about noon. A big mob started pelting stones in the hospital premises where a heavy possee of police, including the district police chief, Mr Yogender Nehra was present. The police also retaliated with a minor cane-charge. The personnel, in riot gear, also pelted stones. These incidents took place before the arrival of the Additional Director-General of Police, Haryana, Dr John V. George.

A strong mob on other side of the street continued calling names and hurled expletives at the police personnel, who were standing in and around the main gate of the hospital. This continued for more than two hours, with the police personnel helplessly watching the scene. Apart form Dr George, and Mrs Deepa Mehta, the Deputy Commissioner and the district police chief, who were in riot combat outfits, were present at the site. The mob from the opposite side of the hospital started pelting stones. The stone throwing was intense. Several bypassers also received injuries. Police personnel were seen running a long distance chasing the aggressive crowd in various streets. The personnel struck deep in Saddar Bazar, the main market near the hospital.

The police lobbed several rounds of tear gas shells. In the battle at least four persons from the crowd and four cops were injured. Two from the mob were spotted with blood dripping from their heads and shoulders.

What was apparent that the mobsters had a definite game-plan against the police which was apparently in a self-restraint mood.

Mrs Deepa Mehta said the police’s main aim was to maintain law and order. It was doing with restraint in spite of provocation, she told newsmen. The district police chief alleged that persons other than workers of Honda Scooters were part of the violent procession yesterday and the mob today. Meanwhile, the district administration has imposed Section 144 in major parts of the city.

The Deputy Commissioner in a statement clarified that out of the 320 persons who were rounded up under Sections 107/51 of the Indian Penal Code in connection with yesterday’s violence, only 40 had been identified to be workers of the Honda Scooters. This apart the police has 60 persons, including workers in two separate FIRs under Sections 148, 149, 332 and 353. The names of those 60 persons were announced in public outside the hospital gate by the police in a bid to clear the mist relating to allegations that some workers were missing.

According to the CMO out of about 60 admitted to Gurgaon Civil Hospital, only 30 of them are still in the hospital. Also, all the 10 admitted in Sohana have been discharged.

Meanwhile, the district unit of the National Legal Services Authority has constituted a team to probe the violent incident yesterday. The District and Sessions Judge is the chairperson of the district unit of the authority.

BJP leader Sahib Singh Verma and the president of the Panthers Party, Prof Bhim Singh, also visited the hospital to inquire about health of the workers. They criticised the state government on use of force against the workers.

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